Process improvement leaders receive Green Belt Certification

Author: Julia Sama and Clara Ritger

Newly certified Green Belts are (from left) Rich Forrester, Edward Verhamme, Katie Rose, Mark Zeese, Pat O’Hara, Todd Hill, Mike Pollex and Ryan Palmer. Not pictured: Tom Guinan

The Office of Continuous Improvement certified nine new Green Belts on Monday, May 7, bringing the total number of certified Green Belts at Notre Dame to 13.

The Green Belt program, which began in spring 2010, serves as the main vehicle for delivering process improvement results at Notre Dame. Green Belts participate in four days of classroom training, 20 hours of online training, and invest approximately 20 percent of their time during the course of their project to their Continuous Improvement work.

Carol Mullaney, director of Continuous Improvement, says that through their project work, Green Belts “help to make working conditions—and the output we are delivering to our customers—better.”

The nine recently certified Green Belts led six different projects in Central Receiving, University Relations, Finance and OIT. The projects resulted in various positive impacts, such as returning time to the departments, increased customer satisfaction and risk reduction. Three of these projects are estimated to restore 668 hours of staff time per year.

Todd Hill, senior director for academic and administrative services in OIT, received Green Belt certification for a project involving improvement to IT project intake and delivery processes. Prior to the project, OIT completed 50 to 60 projects each year. With the new process in place, they are completing 30 percent more projects and customer satisfaction has improved.

Mark Zeese, business processes program manager, and Edward Verhamme, accounts payable manager, were also certified as Green Belts. Their Form 1099 Process Improvement project resulted in printing 1099 tax forms two weeks earlier while saving 213 hours of work, among other efficiency improvements.

Says Verhamme, “The methodology championed by the Office of Continuous Improvement helped us to achieve our project goals. Our IRS Form 1099 process now produces better quality in fewer hours because the right people are doing the right things at the right time. We were amazed at how smoothly this process went compared to prior years!”

Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves presented each Green Belt with a green martial arts belt embroidered with their names at the certification celebration on May 7. “It is a credit to all here for their willingness to be trained in something new, and for their openness to be pioneers in Continuous Improvement efforts at Notre Dame,” he says. “Our vision is for Continuous Improvement to become a way of life on our campus.”

To date, 83 employees have participated in the Green Belt training, having launched 56 projects across campus. Those interested in becoming Green Belt certified should contact the Office of Continuous Improvement, 631-1293 or visit